October 01, 2002 11:00 pm

Railroad presents possibilities

To the Editor:

OK, so what if our new rail line just lost its only paying customer. At least we didn't let the Trail People get their tree-hugging hands on it.

Surely there are other ways to cover the incredible maintenance costs of this system and pay back the multi-million dollar debt we'll owe. We certainly don't want the engineer and conductor of our new engine to be likened to the Maytag repairmen.

I like the excursion-train idea. To cover our costs we can charge passengers $5,000 an hour to see the beautiful Wallowa Canyon. They can get their over-easy-breakfast for $200 or lunch for five big ones. During the off days we can convert a rail car into a hot-dog stand. We could sell wieners on the riverbank to shoreline fishermen for $100 a dog.

We still have the tracks, many miles of railroad tracks, even if the train never runs. Push come to shove, we could cut these up in one-foot pieces and make numerous, useful, household items like door stops, boat anchors or magnum paper weights. There should be enough track to provide for every man, woman and child in the nation.

And if none of this pans out, we should look to the grant process. That's political jargon for your tax dollars with a sugar coating.

Certainly Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Greg Walden can come up with some money to bail us out — perhaps from their "deceased equine" fund.

Our past business dealings should impress them, like the old sawmill we bought near Imbler or the going-broke golf course we're supporting in Union.

They'll be dazzled I'm sure.

James D. Ward

La Grande

Excellent historical article

To the Editor:

The Aug. 23 article "Against all odds," by Mark Highberger, regarding 52 Modoc warriors holding off the U.S. Army numbering more than 1,000 cavalrymen for nearly half a year at Captain Jack's Stronghold just over the California border from Klamath Falls in 1872-73, was superb as well as highly accurate.

Six of us walked through the labyrinth of caves and defense fortifications and trails the day the full-page article appeared in The Observer.

General E.R.S. Canby, as Highberger noted, was the only U.S. Army general ever killed in Indian wars.

Although General George Armstrong Custer met his fate at the Little Big Horn in Montana and was popularly considered a cavalry general, in actuality he was only a brevet general, or lieutenant colonel.

The town of Canby is named after General Canby.

The Modoc chief, Kientpoos, was commonly called Captain Jack by whites because he usually wore military uniforms and a U.S. cavalry captain's hat.

Another interesting fact regarding Captain Jack's Stronghold is that the town of Meacham is named after Alfred B. Meacham, the only peace commissioner to survive the conflict. Although pierced by several bullets, scalped and left for dead, Meacham managed to survive and was nursed back to health by the female Indian interpreter Winema.

In later years Meacham became a staunch lobbyist in Washington, D.C., for Indian causes.

Gary and Bernice Webster

La Grande

Whistles offer security

To the Editor:

I am a native of the North Powder area. I have lived on both sides of the railroad tracks during my lifetime.

The train whistles are sounds you get used to just like the vehicles on the streets or the truck traffic on the interstate.

Depending on the air movement, any of these "noises" may seem they are right outside my door, and while I don't recall being annoyed by these sounds, since Sept. 11, 2001, these noises help restore some security. To see the engines with our great country's flag on them puts a lump in my throat.

If I am awakened by the train whistle, I'm happy that the ol' 4:15 is right on time. I sure would be suspicious of the silence.

Bonita Hebert

North Powder

Appalled by Sub Shop action

To the Editor:

I along with many friends and co-workers at my employment this morning were very, very angry.

We were appalled at what happened in a matter of a couple weeks to my sister's Sub Shop business.

After having an established business for five years, overnight they are losing it

We all feel like Dan and Betty should have been able to have the opportunity to make a counter offer, which I'm sure they would have done to save their business.

They have worked very hard to build their business to the success it has been and I am sure they do not want to give up their location.

I cry for them and all their employees. I truly think this was the wrong thing to do.

Now I and everyone else has a better understanding of why La Grande may have so many problems.

Arlene Baker


Owners needed first rights

To the Editor:

I was extremely appalled at our city government and some of our local business owners after reading the story on the Sub Shop property.

I think it was very unethical for the city to open up the property for the highest bidder after the current owners made a decent offer for the property.

The owners of Mamacita's obviously have no sympathy whatsoever for other businesses in our town. To bid another business out of business is morally wrong.

The current occupants of the business should have had first rights to the property. For a measly $7,000, the city very likely will have put a good sandwich shop out of business in order to accommodate the fourth Mexican food restaurant in the area. And as far as an appropriate location, the current restaurant adjacent to Max Square would serve the customer base better than a sit-down Mexican food restaurant.

I have to wonder how many tax dollars the city will have lost in this $7,000 takeover bid?

Jackie Fitzgerald

La Grande

Students give of their time

To the Editor:

I celebrate the eighth-grade class of La Grande Middle School.

The Observer article about the middle school and La Grande High School's Sept. 3 orientation day for new students mentioned that 60 eighth-grade students helped with the orientation of 200 seventh-graders.

The article noted that the orientation was effective and ran smoothly. Those 60 students, approximately one-third of the eighth-grade class, showed up early on Aug. 29 and learned about how to be student guides from 8 a.m. to noon.

If that was not enough, they also gave up their last day of summer vacation, Sept. 3, and came to school at 8 a.m. to provide assistance to their seventh-grade classmates!

Hooray for the class of 2007!

Teresa Smith-Dixon

La Grande

Court not accepted in America

To the Editor:

On a subject that must be addressed, The Observer had in its Aug. 31 editorial column an authoritative-sounding announcement by an unidentified writer from the Dallas Morning News stating that we must accept the United Nations' International Criminal Court as a reality.

True, the U.N. finally collected enough Third World nations' signatures to ratify the ICC. But, make no mistake, in no way is America obligated to accept the United Nation's ICC jurisdiction over our own superior justice system.

The Bush administration's current unwillingness to accept ICC authority is a positive representation of American will both currently and historically, with the formation of our precious Bill of Rights to protect us from similar foreign management and authority 226 years ago.

Certainly, the ICC is now an international reality binding on those member states that have accepted its authority, but it is not accepted by America and has no legal jurisdiction over Americans.

It is, in fact, a blatant attempt by the United Nations to usurp American sovereignty and self-government through the dismantling of the protections enumerated in our Bill of Rights.

Any capitulation to ICC demands by our government would be a surrender to the power-seeking U.N. of our Bill of Rights and all that it stands for. Our Constitution has served us well over the past two centuries and we must stand fast to protect it against those who would degrade it in their quest to further the U.N.'s sinister agenda.

God bless those stalwarts in our government who remain sufficiently patriotic to defend our sovereignty against this and other related attacks upon our American freedoms.

Jim Bovard


Bakers asset to our community

To the Editor:

The City of La Grande rented a building to Dan and Betty Baker five years ago.

With a lot of hard work and money, they made the Sub Shop into a very successful business.

They give students part-time jobs and they are a definite asset to our community. It seems to me they should have been given first right of refusal rather than sealed bids in their effort to buy the building. This business is their livelihood.

Another business in town wanted their location and the city council voted to put Dan and Betty out of business. Everyone involved in this should be ashamed. There are two establishments in this town I will not eat in again and I'm not alone in this regard.

Kate Moore

La Grande

Protect Oregon's future

To the Editor:

It is a crime that our government cannot balance the state budget without jeopardizing the jobs of the men and women of law enforcement who selflessly put themselves at risk on a daily basis to serve and protect the citizens of this great state.

It is a crime that, in addition, they are jeopardizing our state's intelligence by putting at risk our education system.

There has to be a better way.

I implore our government to tighten the belt of the state budget in areas that will not affect the health, safety and education of Oregon's children, Oregon's future.

Kari Waugaman

La Grande